Travis King will be the lone wrestler representing Hillsboro when he returns to the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament in Hays this weekend for the third consecutive year.
The senior earned one more state berth by placing fourth in the 145-pound weight class with a 3-2 record at the regional tournament hosted by Jayhawk-Linn Friday and Saturday.
King opened with a victory by fall over Mason Claibourn of Fredonia in the first round. He then posted an 8-3 decision over Andrew Bowman of Caney Valley.
In the semifinals, King was on the short end of an 8-2 decision to Levi Sharp of Chase County. Then, in the consolation semifinals, King came back to defeat Denton Douglas of Leon-Bluestem by fall.
In the battle for third place, King lost a 6-4 decision to Colt Eck of Uniontown for fourth place. The top four finishers in each weight class move on to state.
“I am obviously very excited for Travis,” coach Scott O’Hare said. “As our only senior, and being a kid who has been in our wrestling program for most of his life, it is always a good feeling to see their time, effort and hard work pay off.
“We intend to do what we can this week to prepare him for this experience and make sure that his last trip there is a positive one. Travis no doubt has the tools to compete at his level with the best in the state.”
King, with a season record of 28-16, will face Kolby Droegemeier, 44-3, from Wabaunsee in his opening match at Hays on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, freshman Raymond Johnston just missed a state berth at 113 pounds. He defeated Ramsey Center of Cherokee-Southeast by fall in his opening match, then lost by fall to Caleb Farmer of Remington, an opponent he had split with this season, in the quarterfinals.
“We felt that would be a critical match in his attempt to qualify for state,” O’Hare said.
Following a bye in his first consolation match, Johnston defeated Nick Rogers of Chase County by fall to advance to the consolation semifinals. There he lost by fall to Avery Stalford of Central Heights.
“Raymond found himself down by two points in the early part of the third period,” his coach said. “Raymond secured a takedown and two-point near fall to take the lead, just needing to hold the position to win the match and secure his first trip to state. Instead, he was reversed to his back and pinned moments later.”
Three other Trojans competed for state berths.
Jaden Priest posted a 1-2 record at 170 pounds. He lost his opening match to Brandon Lewis of Mound City in a 6-3 decision, but the junior came back to defeat Turner Dent of Pleasanton by an 8-2 score in the first consolation round match.
Priest’s tournament experience came to an end in the second consolation round, when he lost by fall to Conery Noll of West Elk.
“Jaden has made great strides in the two seasons he has been wrestling,” O’Hare said. “I’m hoping during the off-season he gains some explosiveness and some confidence. Our expectation is that he comes back next year as a positive leader for our team and program.”
Sophomore Lane Flaming, competing at 160 pounds, was eliminated after two matches. He lost by fall to Zach Hare of Eureka in the opening round, then lost by technical fall to Erik Moore of Caney Valley in the consolation bracket.
“Lane continues to make progress,” O’Hare said. “He has a great work ethic and is very coachable. At this time, he simply lacks some technique that will come with more experience and strength that will come with maturity and hard work in the weight room.”